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Full text of "Discourses at the inauguration of the Rev. Alexander T. M'Gill, D.D. : as Professor of Pastoral Theology, Church Government and the Composition and Delivery of Sermons, in the Theological Seminary at Princeton, N.J ... September 12, 1854"

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18 54. 


BV 4010 .C57 1854 

Discourses at the 
inauguration of the Rev. 





















Reverexd Directors of tue Theological Seminary, 
AND Respected Friends of this Venerable Insti- 
tution : 

We are here assembled for the performance of a 
most solemn and important duty. To the chair 
which Dr. Alexander filled with such distinguished 
ability for about forty years, and which was left 
vacant by his universally lamented death, the last 
General Assembly elected the Reverend Alexander T. 
M'Gill, D.D., and he having signified his acceptance 
of the appointment, we are here assembled for his 
inauguration. And by my brethren, who are the 
agents of the Assembly in the direction of this Insti- 
tution, it is made my duty to deliver the Charge to 
the newly-elected Professor on the present occasion. 

It is expected that the hour devoted to this service 
should be occupied with those reflections suited to the 
occasion ; to the character we sustain ; and to the 


relations of our Theological Seminary to the world, 
which is to be restored to its allegiance to God. 
mainly, through the labours of the ministry. And 
the topics to which we now invite your attention are 
The Characteristics of an Able Minister of the 
New Testament, and The World's great need of 
such Ministers. 

The word " minister" means a servant ; and " minis- 
try" means service. The word usually translated 
minister, Aidzw^oq, is the name given in the ancient 
church to those who collected alms for the poor, and 
distributed them ; but, when connected with the words 
Kptaroo, 0SOO, EayysX'oo, and the like, it means religious 
instructors, or preachers of the gospel. Yet the lead- 
ing character of a minister is that of a servant, and the 
ministry is a service of a special kind. Every Chris- 
tian is a servant of Christ, but every Christian is not 
a minister of the gospel. Every deacon is a servant, 
as the word implies ; but his service respects temporal 
things, and the office was instituted that the ministry 
of the word might fully devote itself to the high duty 
of spiritual instruction. 

As to the ministry, there are obviously two extremes 
in the Church ; one among ministers, the other among 
the people. That among ministers, is an abuse of 
their office, so as to make it a stepping-stone to power, 
and to the exercise of undue dominion over their 
brethren. That among the people, arises from the 


idea that, because ministers are servants, therefore 
they are their masters. The one extreme has given 
rise to hierarchies, which, in their most modified 
forms, have been a calamity to the Church and the 
workl ; — and the other has given rise to insubordina- 
tion, springing from the assumption that ministers, as 
such, were accountable to the people, and not to Jesus 
Christ. These extremes exist and are producing one 
another ; as in the state, anarchy produces despotism, 
and despotism anarchy. Whilst the people owe obe- 
dience to scriptural officers, exercising due authority 
in the Lord, ministers should ever regard the precept 
of their Master, "He that will be great, let him be 
the servant of all," and the example of their Master, 
who said, "1 have been among you as one that 
serveth." They should aim to be, in every respect, 
"able ministers of the New Testament, not of the 
letter, but of the Spirit ; for the letter killeth, but the 
Spirit giveth life." But what are the characteristics 
of an able minister of the New Testament? We 
would place among these : — 

1. Decided piety. — Piety is a firm and right appre- 
hension of the being, perfections, and providence of 
God, with suitable affections to him, resemblance to 
his moral perfections, and a constant obedience to his 
will. To be an able minister and faithful, this must 
be decidedly possessed. Otherwise, the great spring 
of ministerial life is wanting, or defective. No gifts 


however splendid or attractive can compensate for the 
lack of piety. It requires but a small degree of this 
for a young man to go through our required course of 
training for the ministry, and to sustain a respectable 
character. Its trial commences with the active duties 
of the ministry. There is difiiculty in finding a field 
of labour, and division attending his settlement, his 
salary is inadequate, his labours are exhausting, his 
people are lukewarm, he is opposed in his labours, the 
world murmurs, his preaching is not successful, his 
talents are depreciated, and he is apparently neglected 
by his brethren. Now comes the trial of faith, piety, 
and principles, which soon makes apparent the real 
state of a minister's heart. And unless his heart is 
deeply imbued with the Spirit of Christ, he fails to 
accomplish many of the great ends for which the 
ministry was instituted. 

The lack of that Spirit also manifests itself in 
efforts to become what the world calls a popular 
preacher. One is truly popular by the force of his 
talents and the fervour of his piety ; another, because 
he makes it his main object. Between these there is 
a great difference. One is simple and solemn; the 
other, magniloquent and self-complacent. The one 
impresses by his thoughts ; the other, by his language. 
The one collects his flowers from Calvary ; the other, 
from Parnassus. The one wins converts to Christ; 
the other, makes admirers of himself The one mois- 


tens the eye with a tear ; the other, curls the Hp with 
a smile of admiration. The one preaches strongly 
and boldly the doctrines of the cross ; the other, with- 
holds them, lest they should offend, and blunts his 
arrows lest they should penetrate; — emulous of the 
reputation of a popular preacher. These nice and 
pretty preachers are too rapidly multiplying; and 
they will continue to increase or diminish in the pro- 
portion of the degree of serious piety in the ministry. 
Such are not ambassadors for Christ; they are but 
Sabbath-day performers before fashionable audiences, 
that seek amusement alternately at the church, the 
opera, and the theatre ! 

How *adly the Jewish Church suffered from false 
prophets and priests ! How soon the early Church 
was rent and torn by ungodly ministers ! For how 
many ages, not excepting our own, the boasted suc- 
cessors of the Apostles were the vilest of men ! How 
even, at the present day, in some countries nominally 
Protestant, the lowest infidelity is decked in the robes 
of the ministry; and how, in communions regarded 
as evangelical, an unsanctified clergy are prostituting 
the order and ordinances of God's house, to the sup- 
planting of a spiritual by a formal and ritual religion ! 
And, when we examine the history of the Church, we 
find that true piety was the great element of the 
success of those who have most blest it by their 
ministry. It was the piety of Paul that sustained 


him amid his manifold trials, and persecutions, and 
untiring labours. We owe the glorious Reformation 
far more to the piet}^, than to the policy or talents of 
the reformers. What but the piety of our Presbyte- 
rian fathers sustained and animated them amid the 
glens, and the rocks, and the mountains of Scotland, 
when the bloody trooper was sent out for their 
murder by those who worshipped in cathedrals. And 
if we look into the character of such men as Baxter, 
Doddridge, Edwards, Dickinson, Davies, Tennent, or 
to come down to some of our own Alumni, whose 
names a^e as fragrant ointment among us, we find 
that decided, warm-hearted piety was the great ele- 
ment of their success. 

2. To be an able minister requires due qualifica- 
tion for the work. In the magnitude of its objects 
the preaching of the gospel far surpasses every other 
employment in which man can engage. There is 
scarcely any intellectual culture, civil liberty, or social 
order, but through its influence. And it is alike God's 
appointed instrument for the salvation of men, and for 
the moral illumination of our world. To the scheme 
of redemption all objects and events in our world are 
subordinate and subservient. This is the point where 
all the attributes of God converge iuto a blaze of 
glory. And the means appointed to make known the 
redemption which is in Christ Jesus to our world, is 
the preaching of the gospel. If angels, without being 


satisfied, are prying into its wonders; if Panl, tlio 
eloqnent and aged, could say, " Who is sufficient for 
these things," — then a pious, uninspired man, should 
seek the highest possible qualifications for the ministry. 
The distinguishing mark of a faithful minister is 
this, "he shall feed his people with knowledge and 
understanding." Unless he possesses these, how can 
he mete them out to his people ? What, but sound, 
can an empty vessel send forth? Regarding an 
uneducated ministry as unfit to instruct the people, 
as unfitted to obtain for the gospel the attention and 
the respect of the thoughtful, and as very liable to 
become the dupes of error, and the promoters of fana- 
ticism and folly, our Church, from its origin, has 
insisted on an educated ministry. Hence, it has ever 
been the patron of the school, the academy, the col- 
lege, and of schools for the instruction of her rising 
prophets. Hence, the erection of this Seminary, and 
of its sister institutions, that the future pastors of the 
churches may have the benefit of a thorough training 
for their high duties. Mere piety will exert an in- 
fluence; but it requires an alliance with talent and 
education to arrest the attention of the vicious, and to 
reform public morals. It required all the talent and 
education of Paul, to cross the Rubicon of Jewish pre- 
judice; to confute the Pharisee and Sadducee in the 
Synagogue; the sophist in the school of Tyrannus, 
and the subtle heathen in all the courts of the Gen- 


tiles. It required all the talent and education of 
Luther and Melancthon to breast the storm of papal 
wrath that fell upon them ; and, like the towering 
cliff, to bear unmoved and uninjured, the tempest, the 
thunder, and the lightning, that played around them. 
And wherever the gospel has made signal and perma- 
nent conquests, in changing the face of society, in 
moulding civil and moral institutions, in correcting 
the opinions and reforming the lives of the intelligent 
and influential, it has been always preached by men 
of high mental endowment, and of great and varied 

The living historian of the Reformation tells us, 
that "the Reformers always connected deep study 
with the laborious ministry; the ministry was the 
end, study was but the means." And this we might 
learn from their works. And here we have revealed 
one of the great elements of their success. The great 
defect of the ministry of our day is a neglect of study; 
and this is induced by causes which we cannot now 
stop to state. They are known of all men. A young 
man of fine promise concludes his course of study and 
becomes a pastor, exciting high hopes of eminence 
and usefulness. Amid the calls and rewards of active 
life, books and studies are neglected. Applauded by 
those who praise without stint, because without sense, 
he soon learns to lean upon his unassisted genius and 
natural sagacity. He soon discovers a way to repu- 


tation other and shorter than the dull and beaten one 
of industry. He soon cuts the knot that he cannot 
untie, and jumps the difficulty that he cannot remove, 
and depends less upon patience of investigation than 
upon his intuition to comprehend causes, and subjects, 
and methods of argumentation. And soon his mind, 
naturally fertile and productive, becomes a barren. 
Now his sermons are alike, whatever may be the text. 
All have something old, but nothing new. His people 
complain ; but habits are now formed which cannot 
be mended. His people cry for meat, and he gives 
them milk. Un profited by his labours, they seek a 
dismission; and he must retire from a field where 
diligent habits of study would make him an honoured 
and useful man until the almond blossoms flourished 
upon his head. He began a man; he ends a boy. 
As a rule, the minister should make everything give 
way to a due and full preparation for the pulpit. 
The pulpit is the place from which to instruct the 
people. There, pre-eminently, he is to prove himself 
an able minister of the New Testament. He should 
ever feel that the image of God is not to be re-in- 
stamped upon our world by those who are talkers, and 
exhorters, and storytellers, instead of preachers and 
teachers ; and whose best prepared nutriment is but 
milk for babes. 

3. To be an able minister of the New Testament re- 
quires the full presentation of its great doctrines. It is 


by the preaching of the gospel, that God has ordained 
to save men. Everything else, so far as saving men is 
concerned, is but giving scorpions for eggs, and serpents 
for fish. The grand object of the Saviour during his in- 
carnation, was to prove that he was the promised Mes- 
siah, by the miracles which he wrought, and by show- 
ing that in himself all the lines of history and prophecy 
met and blended. His life he closed upon the cross 
agreeably to the Scriptures ; being made a sin offering 
for his people, that they might be made the righteous- 
ness of God in him. And with the cup of sorrow in 
his hand, and with the agonies of Gethsemane and 
Calvary in full view, he uttered this memorable senti- 
ment, " And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will 
draw all men unto me." This refers, primarily, to his 
crucifixion, but in a secondary and important sense to 
the preaching of the doctrines of the cross. And, 
hence, after the resurrection had completed the circle 
of testimony to his Messiahship, and the Spirit had 
been granted, the work of the Apostles was to preach 
a crucified Christ as God's great remedy for the moral 
diseases of man. This was the theme of Peter amid 
the gatherings at the feast of Pentecost — and of Paul 
amid all the cities of the Gentiles. Their grand theme 
was " repentance towards God, and fixith in the Lord 
Jesus Christ." And, hence, their ministry was mighty, 
through God, to the pulling down of strongholds. And 
such is the course which must be pursued by all their 


successors in offico who desire to approve themselves 
as able ministers of the New Testament. 

When we look into the ages of conflict between 
truth and error, we find that those have been always 
the victors who presented the doctrines of the cross 
most simply and purely. And in every branch of the 
Church that ministry has been most successful which 
has been thus characterized. The preaching of Christ 
and him crucified, produced the Reformation, and has 
sustained it. If any doubt this, let them read 
D'Aubigne, and Luther on the Galatians, and the Life 
of John Knox, and Howe's Living Temple, and his nine 
sermons on Friendship with God, and Flavel's forty- 
two sermons on the character of Christ, and his thirty- 
four on the method of Grace, and Owen on the Spirit, 
and on the Person and Glory of Christ. A Christ 
crucified for the sins of sinners, as their substitute, and 
in their law place, is the great central truth of our 
religion. And to the directing of the eyes of all men 
to the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the 
world, an able minister of the New Testament will 
make everything subservient. The Alumni of this 
Seminary will all testify that thus we have been em- 
phatically taught by the venerated Professor in whose 
vacated chair we place to-day a successor. And our 
heartfelt supplication will ascend to the God of all 
grace, that in this, as in all other respects, the mantle 
of Elijah may fall upon Elisha. 


And is there not need for warning upon this subject, 
when so many are turning away from the simplicity of 
Christ, spoiling the gospel, " through philosophy, and 
vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudi- 
ments of this world ?" Instead of preaching Christ, 
and simply expounding His word, how many are seek- 
ing, above all things, to make adherents to their own 
peculiarities ! One has his theory of moral suasion, — 
another, of inspiration, — another, as to original sin, — 
another, as to regeneration, — the atonement; another, 
as to interpretation, — another, as to the efficacy of 
sacraments and ceremonies, — another, of moral and 
social reform. In many portions of the Church there 
is a raging controversy as to the mint, anise, and 
cummin, amid which the lifting up of the Son of Man 
is sadly neglected. It is the preaching of the cross 
that gives power to the ministry ; and when that is 
neglected for anything else, we cut off the lock of our 
strength. The truth as it is in Jesus is the only suc- 
cessful weapon of the ministry; and the history of the 
Church is pregnant with the most important lessons 
upon this subject. As the truth died out from the 
ancient Church, fancy, and credulity, and corruption 
had a freer play ; the tokens of departing glory and of 
a coming night fearfully multiplied. Shade thickened 
after shade. Each succeeding age came wrapped in a 
deeper gloom, until the sun which rose over Judea set 
at Rome, — until the flood of light which it poured 


upon the world had to retrer.t before that long, long 
night, called the " Dark Ages, >* which seemed to roll on 
as if it were never to end ! 

And what, in some quarters, has been made the re- 
proach of our beloved Institution, is its true glory; 
and is the great cause of the rejoicing of all its friends, 
and of its influence in all sections of our country, and 
in all branches of the Church, that amid the currents 
and counter currents of erroneous doctrine ; amid the 
conflicts of philosophy falsely so called; amid the 
storms which have blown over the Church, and which 
have made some of its men of might to bow; amid the 
reproaches of lukewarmness and time-serving by its 
friends, and of bigoted attachment to antiquated for- 
mularies, and of blind submission to authority b}^ its 
enemies ; it has continued steadfast and immovable in 
the faith once delivered to the saints. So may it ever 
continue. And the prayer of all of us will ascend to 
the God of all grace that the beloved brother placed 
among its professors by the election of the Church, 
may strengthen every cord that tends to bind it, in 
immovable anchorage under the shelter of the Rock of 

4. An able minister must be impressive. If true^ 
as the notable reviewer of Milton affirms, that "as 
civilization advances poetry necessarily declines," it is 
equally true, and for the same reasons, that in the 
proportion people are enlightened, is it difficult to im- 


press them ! In the age of Moses thp Jews, were more 
easily impressed than ^Ji that of Isaiah ; and as the 
unsanctified mind becomes accustomed to the light of 
science and religion, does it lose its susceptibility of 
impression from the public exhibitions of divine truth ! 
And hence the inelegant but descriptive phrase, " a 
gospel-hardened sinner," to describe a person who, 
under the influence of light, has lost, measurably, that 
susceptibility. We state the principle, not as an argu- 
ment for the blessedness of ignorance, but for an im- 
pressive ministry. It is by the preaching of the 
gospel that men are to be saved instrumentally ; and 
no effort should be left untried to raise up a ministry 
prepared to preach, so as to impress men with a sense 
of its eternal importance. And especially should this 
be the case in our country, where, more than in any 
other, the public mind is swayed by popular addresses ; 
where the current to worldliness is so proverbially 
strong, and where, perhaps, more than in any other, 
the difficulty may be greater of arresting attention, and 
turning away the heart from the pursuit of vanity. 
Ours, beyond all others, is the country for a White- 
field, a Summerfield. a Larned, a John Breckinridge ; 
men peculiarly adapted to sway the masses, and whose 
dispensation was public impression. Such men may 
leave no monuments to their learning ; but they give 
out impulses which may be absorbed by other minds, 



and plans of action, and thus pass away from view, 
but never die. 

May it not be that to this point too little attention 
is directed in our seminaries; and by our young 
brethren who resort to them for instruction ? Their 
chairs of theology, and of history, and of criticism, are 
filled with the best, and best furnished minds in the 
Church; but in many of them there is no adequate 
provision made for instruction in the art of preaching. 
In the field which is the world, the power of impres- 
sion is the main thing; is it not regarded as too se- 
condary in our theological schools? Is it not even 
sometimes the subject of the sneer of the dull 
scholastic? Notwithstanding the positive and accu- 
mulated evidence upon the subject, there is a way of 
talking about popular talent as if it were necessarily 
disconnected with profound thought ; and also a way 
of talking about mere scholarship, and the power of 
accumulation, as if they could accomplish everything. 
And the whole machinery of our preparation for the 
ministr}'^, is calculated thus to impress our candidates 
for the pulpit. Hence, many of our young ministers 
can read their Hebrew Bibles fluently, who cannot in 
public read a chapter of the English version, without 
stumbling and mispronouncing from the beginning to 
the end. Many can read Homer and Horace, with 
accuracy and fluency, who cannot read a hymn of 
Watts or Newton, with the emphasis or elegance of a 


young lady from some of our best boarding schools. 
Many can write a sermon according to rule, and of 
power both as to truth and argument ; but when they 
come to preach it, so dull and slovenly is their man- 
ner, and so drawling and holy is their tone, that to 
their hearers it has neither sense, point, truth, or force. 
As spiritual fishermen they cast the net so clumsily as 
to drive off, instead of drawing up the fishes. And so 
little skill in adapting themselves to circumstances 
have many of our best educated licentiates, that they 
wander through our vacancies for years, without meet- 
ing with a congregation willing to extend a call to 
their educated dulness. We are far from believing 
that too much is done to secure the full education of 
our ministry ; we would rather increase than diminish 
the time for preparation, and the course of study ; but 
the conviction is deep and heartfelt, that far too little 
is done to give it power and impressiveness in public. 
We may differ as to the cause, but the fact is obvious, 
that our ministry, to a lamentable degree fails to im- 
press the masses. 

The necessary ingredients to impressiveness in the 
preacher are, good writing, good speaking, and a man- 
ner at once solemn and earnest. When these are ac- 
companied with a character for consistent piety, they 
cannot fail to attract and to impress. And hence they 
should be sedulously cultivated in order to usefulness. 
To be sure, education cannot supply everything where 


nature has been parsimonious of her gifts. But it can 
do much ; and what we plead for, is, that far more at- 
tention should be given to that side of the education of 
our ministry which fits it for impressively preaching 
the gospel, so as to reach the great masses that are 
out in ways of wandering from God. 

When we add to these characteristics of an able min- 
ister of the New Testament, that of entire consecration 
to the work of the ministry, our picture is complete. 
The injunction of our Lord is, " pray ye the Lord of 
the harvest, that he will send forth labourers unto his 
harvest." The Lord's harvest requires labourers, not 
idlers. Those who enter the field in answer to this 
prayer, enter it, not to seek the lordship of it, nor yet 
to fatten on the labours of others, but to work in it 
during the whole day of tiieir lives, whether it be long 
or short. 

It is not sufficient for a true minister to feel a gene- 
ral desire to be useful ; he must be possessed by a 
desire for the salvation of men, which will give him 
no rest but as he seeks to gratify it. Souls are his 
hire ; and many waters cannot quench the love which 
inflames his heart to obtain them. It is this one 
great, absorbing feeling, which takes him to his study, 
to his closet, to the chamber of sickness, to the pulpit. 
It inspires every sermon he writes, gives energy to 
every address he makes, and fervency to every prayer 
he utters, and marks all his intercourse with all men. 


He is seeking a place among those who, by turning 
many to righteousness, will shine as the stars forever, 
and forever. A church with such a ministry is a 
growing and glorious church. 

But will any say, this is a fancy sketch, unattainable 
by ordinary men ? But is not Christ the pattern for 
our imitation ? And his meat and drink was, to do 
the will of his Father. But will any say he was 
divine ? Then look at Paul ; from the hour the scales 
fell from his eyes, until the hour he went up to receive 
his crown from his exalted Saviour, he lived but for 
one object : to save men by the preaching of the truth. 
But will any say, he was inspired ? Then look at 
"Whitefield and Wesley. " When you see them di- 
viding their lives between the pulpit and the closet ; 
sacrificing every comfort, crossing the ocean many 
times, moving populous cities, often rising from the bed 
of sickness to preach to multitudes, and under circum- 
stances Avhich rendered it not improbable that they 
might exchange the pulpit for the tomb ;" when you 
look at the lives and labour of these, and such men as 
Heywood, and Baxter, and Chalmers, and others 
among the dead and the living, you will see that we 
have drawn no fancy sketch. When it was announced 
to the dying Backus, whose ministry was greatly pro- 
tracted and useful, that he could not survive an hour, 
" then," said he, " place me on my knees, that I may 
offer up another prayer for the Church of God before 


I die." He was placed upon his knees; and upon his 
knees, praying for the Church of God, he died. 

Such being what we consider the characteristics of 
an able minister of the New Testament, we proceed 
brie% to state : — 


Our country is incomparably the most inviting 
field for Christian exertion which the world contains. 
Its territory is vast, its soil productive, its wealth be- 
yond computation, — its mind, intelligent and active ; 
its institutions free. AVe possess the broadest liberty, 
and the most perfect security. And as free as is the 
air to the electric fluid, so free is our country to the 
exchange of thought, and open to manly discussion on 
all kinds of subjects. 

It is also the point towards which almost all the 
streams of emigration rising in the old world are flow- 
ing. The strangers weekly landed on our shores, 
under the genial influence of our institutions, are soon 
moulded into fellow-citizens. And a minister must 
possess the gift of tongues who can in their own lan- 
guage preach to the few hundred inhabitants of any 
of our rising villages on the banks of the Ohio, or on 
the shores of our lakes. As a nation, our physical 
power is vigorous, and it is all driven as by steam. 
The most enterprising people of Europe in comparison 


with our own, are but as the sluggish Rhine as it flows 
through HoUancl, to our Niagara. Indeed we pos- 
sess all the great elements of power, with room to 
grow, and nurture to sustain. But these elements are 
not yet fully combined ; and a few generations are to 
determine whether we will be governed by infidelity 
and Popery, or by morality and religion. Unless the 
gospel gains the ascendency in this nation, the astonish- 
ment excited by our unexampled progress to greatness, 
will give way to the greater astonishment of our sudden 
fall And whether or not the gospel shall obtain the 
ascendency depends, under God, upon the fact whether 
or not it is supplied with an able ministry. And what 
but a ministry earnest as was that of Paul and White- 
field, truthful as was that of Davies and Brainard, 
self-sacrificing as was that of our Scottish and Irish 
ancestry, can scatter the salt from the Lakes to the 
Gulf of Mexico, and from the east across the Great 
River, through Texas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oregon, 
and California, in such quantities as to preserve their 
rapidly growing communities from moral putrefaction? 
Let but a tithe of the enterprise which reigns in the 
world around us, glow in the bosom of the ministry of 
our land, and soon the Rocky Mountains will cry to 
the Alleghanies, and the Sacramento to the Hudson, 
and the Columbia to the Ohio : " 0, magnify the Lord 
with me, let us exalt his name together." 

Nor when we look at the state of the world, is the 


kingdom of heaven as near as many would imagine. 
This age does not answer the description of that which 
is to precede the setting up of the kingdom of our Lord. 
Before Jesus Christ becomes the king of nations, there 
will be a conflict which will make the earth to tremble. 
The signs of the times are already portentous in the 
old world. Popery is yet what it was in the days of 
its Gregories, Clements, and Johns. The lion is caged, 
but his natural ferocity and tusks remain. And 
Mahometanism is yet what it was in the days of its 
Alis and Omars. It is civilly weak ; it has lost its 
bold spirit of enterprise and imposture ; but its heart 
is the same. Nor has heathenism lost any of its stupid 
and sullen resistance to the truth. " The prince of 
the powers of the air," yet rules the heathen world 
with a strong hand. Nor will these powers always 
look quietly on, and without resistance, see their 
territories won over to the Prince of Peace. There is 
yet a battle to be fought, when, as seen in vision by 
the prophet, the blood may come up to the horse's 
bridles. True, the result is not doubtful. Victory 
wall eventually perch upon the banner under which 
are ranged the people and saints of the Most High. 
But an able ministry is needed to prepare the Church 
for the conflict ; to lead on the hosts of the elect, and 
to guide them in the coming struggle. 

And the present state of the visible Church loudly 
calls for such a ministry. A wasting and multiform 


fanaticism, claiming almost prophetic revelations, is 
deluding multitudes. A religion of forms, and sacra- 
ments, and priestly interferences, is deluding multitudes 
more. Prelacy, for reasons baseless as the fabric of a 
vision, is urging its exclusive claims to be the true 
church ; and in some quarters, with a narrowness and 
bigotry better suited to the dotage of the "Latin sister." 
Popery, too, is lifting up its wounded head, and is 
stretching its aged limbs, and is urging its gray hairs 
and furrowed brow, its decrepitude, its wounds, and 
its weakness, to make unto itself friends. And amid 
our evangelical churches, old heresies are rising 
under new names, and old errors are returning in 
a new dress, distracting the councils of the wise 
and the good, and arraying brethren against one ano- 
ther, who should stand shoulder to shoulder in the 
conflict with the common enemy. In any of our 
villages of one thousand inhabitants we meet with the 
rationalism of Germany, the infidelity of France, the 
apostacy of Oxford, and the stupid Popery of Ireland. 
And everywhere is human nature in ruins, and the 
carnal heart with its errors and prejudices. To silence 
these adversaries ; to repel their assaults upon the 
truth, and to save men from their snares, we need 
minds trained, sanctified, and active, that can pour 
forth light like the sun. A feeble opposition to these 
is worse than none, as they measure their strength, not 
by the volume of their own muscle, but by the dexterity 


with which they cause a weak opponent, like a silk worm, 
to wind himself np in the web of his own weaving. 

In our age and country, mind is unshackled, — and 
with the chains of superstition it has thrown aside 
reverence for orders, office, station. We make the 
statement only to record an historical fact. Nothing 
is now received without investigation, but error and 
nonsense. The attachments of clans, parties, sects, 
descending from one generation to another, are here 
unknown. The f\ict that a man is a minister obtains 
no notes for his opinions; and in many portions of the 
land, secures many against them. The most catholic 
principles are here discussed, as if but just stated ; 
and creeds and confessions, sealed by the blood of 
martyrs, and which have received the sanction of ages, 
are searched and sifted as if but just published. Amid 
such an array of opposition, the advocacy of truth re- 
quires the ablest minds that God has created. Efficacy 
as to the success of the truth is from God, but the in- 
strumentality is with man ; and the more able our 
ministry, the surer the hopes of its speedy triumphs. 
As we cannot expect every lawyer to be a Blackstone, 
nor every judge to be a Marshall, nor every physician 
to be a Rush, nor every soldier to be a Washington, 
nor every philosopher to be a Newton, so neither 
can we expect every minister to be a Paul, a Chalmers, 
a Miller, or an Alexander. There are various depart- 
ments and fields of labour in the Church to occupy every 


variety of talent in the ministry ; and every man sus- 
taining that relation to the world should occupy their 
every talent to the full ; and, like the stars in heaven, 
should fill up the orbit in which they move with their 
light. A minister in our age and country, where so 
much is to be done, and yet finding nothing to do ! 
Out upon such ministers ! Had they lived in the days 
of Noah, they would have found themselves in lack of 
water when the waves of the deluge were rising around 

Such, my brother, is the ministry needed in our day 
by the Church and the world. It was for the educa- 
tion of such a ministry that our fathers founded the 
Theological Seminary located in this town ; and that 
through the years of its history, it has been fostered and 
cherished by the General Assembly. And it is to aid to 
the utmost of your ability, in the education of such a 
ministry, that you have been called by the Church from 
a sister Seminary to be a professor in this Institution. 
No higher mark of their confidence could the Directors 
of this Seminary give you than their unanimous nomi- 
nation of you to the Assembly which has transferred you 
here ; and we feel assured that that confidence will be 
justified, by a life consecrated to the high interests 
which we cheerfully commit to your trust. 

The department, my brother, over which you are 
especially to preside embraces subjects and topics, the 
most important in their bearings upon all the in- 


terests of the Church. To you is committed instruc- 
tion in the sacraments of the Church, as to their au- 
thority, history, administration, and meaning. I need 
not say to you, who have spent so many of your years 
in Laborious study, and successful instruction, that it is 
through the door of the sacraments the most fearful and 
desolating errors have entered the Church of God. There 
is scarcely a shade of error from their denial as positive 
institutions, up to the giving to them the power which 
the Holy Ghost alone exercises, which has not existed 
in reference to them, and which do not now exist. It 
will be for you to clear these rites from the clouds and 
mists with which the fanaticism of a Fox, and the super- 
stition of Papists and Puseyites have cast around them, 
and to hold them up before our rising ministry in 
their true scriptural simplicity and meaning. 

To you is also committed the work of instruction 
in Church government ; and at a time when Popery, 
Prelacy, and Independency are urging their claims with 
quenchless zeal, and great power. Whilst as a people 
we have ever insisted less upon the external organiza- 
tion of the Church, than upon its system of doctrines, 
and its inner life, yet our entire history proves that 
we have not been indifferent to it. Where has purity 
of doctrine long survived the introduction of grades 
into the ministry ? And where now is the truth, the 
life, the holy zeal of the Church to be found, save 
where the purity of the ministry, and the radical prin- 


ciples of Presbyterianism, fire maintained ? Our 
fathers were not contending for airy speculations, or 
for unmeaning peculiarities, when they refused to bow 
to a bishop's sceptre — when they surrendered life 
rather than the principles of Presbytery — when they 
preferred to be hunted like wild beasts through the glens 
and over the mountains of Scotland, by troopers set on 
by those who worshipped in cathedrals, rather than sur- 
render their simple faith as to the polity of the Church. 
They have transmitted to us a church organized upon 
the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, with its 
three orders of Ministers, Elders, and Deacons ; and so 
organized as to secure promptness and efficiency with- 
out tyranny, — the free action of the people, without 
confusion or anarchy ; — and the oversight and govern- 
ment of each member without interfering with the 
freedom of any. And the maintainance of these prin- 
ciples, endeared to us because taught us in the New 
Testament, and purchased by the blood and treasures 
of our fathers, we regard as essential to the maintain- 
ance of the civil rights of man and the sacred liberties 
of the Church, Your own early training, your \^ws 
and your services as a minister, and your antecedents 
as a professor, lead us with entire confidence to com- 
mit this department of instruction to your care. We 
want not our young brethren to be bigots; but we 
charge you to make them thorough Presbyterians. 
To you also is committed the work of preparing our 


young brethren here, for the duties of the pastor, and 
of the preacher of the gospel. The brethren associated 
with 30U teach them theology, and the history of the 
Church, and the literature of the Bible; and then 
pass them over to you, to be prepared by you for ac- 
tual service in the field. If others furnish the wea- 
pons of warfiire, it will be for you to teach their use. 
Here is the point of greatest deficienc}- in the present 
mode of educating our ministry. In everything per- 
taining to scholastic education, we have made a great 
advance beyond the systems of our fathers, nor do we 
admit that our existing ministry, as some would assert, 
is inferior in pastoral or pulpit ability to any genera- 
tion of their predecessors ; but we have not made ad- 
vance in the practical, proportional to that made in 
the scholastic, departments of education. And unless 
we mistake, it is the strong desire of the Directors of 
this Seminary, and of the Church, that the dejDartment 
of instruction committed to you should assume, at once, 
its due importance. The churches need sympathizing 
pastors, and skilful, who are fully instructed as to the 
duties of good shepherds, and wlio will faithfully dis- 
charge them. The good pastor should be as the good 
physician who watches the rise and progress of dis- 
eases — who seeks to know the diseases of his patients 
— who wisely prescribes for them — and who visits 
them to see the effect of his remedies. They need 
also preachers J not merely men who can write good 



sermons — who can analyze a text — who can deliver a 
discourse with a correct coldness which chills the 
hearer ; but men who feel that the object of preaching the 
gospel is to stir the hearts of others by the great truths 
which fill their own, — that the preaching of the gospel 
is an ordinance upon whose improvement or neglect 
the life or the death of men hangs suspended. The 
Church needs preachers of sermons, not readers of es- 
says, — men who prefer the walks about the Sea of Galilee, 
and in the garden of Gethsemane, and over Calvary, 
to the dreamy regions of transcendentalism, — who 
would as soon quote Paul as Coleridge, or Carlyle, — 
who prefer the obscurity to which the resolve " to know 
nothing but Christ and him crucified" may consign 
them, to the notoriety obtained by converting the 
pulpit into a stage from which all kinds of lectures are 
delivered, upon all kinds of subjects, and before all 
kinds of people. It cannot be denied that "Young 
America," in many parts of the country, is seeking its 
way into the pulpit. It prophesies smooth things. 
It prefers the word in fashion, for the " word in sea,- 
son ;" pleasing generalities, to the doctrines " piercing 
even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit ;" un- 
ofiending truisms, or shallow sophisms, to unpalatable 
truths. It courts popularity by every art. It ex- 
changes old creeds for new ones; and is evermore 
seeking new ways of reforming men, to the neglect of 
holding forth the doctrines of the cross, the only ade- 


quale means of reinstamping on our world the image 
of its Creator. The Church, the world, needs a minis- 
try penetrated with the belief that the salvation of the 
world is suspended on the cross of Christ; — not the 
cross as wrought on the banners of armies — nor as 
borne by crusaders^ — nor as glittering from the steeples 
of churches — nor as Avorked on the slipper of a pope 
— nor as braided on the back of a priest — nor as 
dangling on the bosom of a young miss, or a vain 
bishop ; but the cross, preached in the fulness of its 
doctrines, as the power of God to the salvation of all 
who believe them. It was for the purpose of raising 
up such a ministry that this beloved Institution was 
founded, and it is to aid in the training of such a 
ministry that you, my brother, are this day inaugurated 
as professor. And, in the name of my brethren, I 
charge you, to the utmost of your ability, to see to it 
that these ends are attained. 

It is Avith no cold or Mtering words we welcome 
you to this oldest seat of theological instruction in our 
Church. We hesitate not to pledge to you the kind 
and fraternal co-operation of the existing Faculty, 
who adorn the chairs they occupy not less by their 
amiable virtues, than by their profound learning. 
And whilst we pledge to you the support and aflfection- 
ate sympathy of our Directors, we would implore that 
the mantle of the sainted Alexander and Miller may 
rest upon you ; — that, like them, you may live, bless- 


ing the Church, to a good old age — that like them you 
may die, wearing the robes of your office — and that 
your sun, like theirs, may set without a cloud, leaving 
behind it an undying radiance. 







Fathers and Brethren : 

It is a result, worthy of the wisdom which has ever 
directed this great school of theology, that, on the de- 
mise of the fathers, who reared it from the beginning, 
there should be assigned to their successors, a distri- 
bution of labour, so distinct and complete, in every 
department. Fragmentary, as may appear to some, the 
'tradition of its several parts, the Chair, to which I am 
now inducted, is as perfectly unique and definite as 
any other. It is p-adical Theology, as distinguished 
from tlieoretical. It is the complement of that perfect 
cycle, in which exegetic, systematic, and historic 
theology, are primary and main departments, in 
theological training. It is necessary to these, as art 
is to science, as speech is to thought, as action is to 
life and vigour : sharing Avith them, also, difficult inves- 
tigations, which demand the highest culture and dis- 
cipline of mind. A more perfect separation to itself of 
what logically pertains to this department, was never 


made, in any age or country, than is indicated in the 
title you have given it, with the sanction of our Gene- 
ral Assembly. That master mind, in Scottish educa- 
tion, Dr. Campbell of Aberdeen, sketches the four de- 
partments of a complete divinity course, precisely as 
they are now arranged in this Institution ; making 
systematic and polemic theology to be appropriately 
one, and the whole province of" instructing and govern- 
ing" to be another department, distinct from any other, 
and properly denominated practical. 

A sixfold division of subjects, may be fairly detailed, 
under the threefold denomination bestowed. 

I. Pastoral Theology, strictly considered ; embra- 
cing the theory of the pastor's office, its origin, its end, 
its importance, its qualifications, its care of souls, and 
discernment of their diversities, its rights and relations, 
trials, encouragements, and rewards. The warrant 
for a standing ministry, the nature and degree of its 
separation from the body of the faithful ; what consti- 
tutes a call to the ministry, what maintains the evi- 
dence of such vocation, and cultivates the pre-eminent 
holiness which must characterize the office, — these are 
some of the topics that belong to this division, and in- 
volve many questions of great importance and diffi- 
culty, which are distinct from didactic theology ; and 
yet need the teacher, as much as any other study, in 
the work of preparation. 

II. Homiletics ; the whole range of sacred rhetoric j 


comprehending as much instruction, as renowned aca- 
demies in ancient times were instituted to impart, with 
those great pecuharities engrafted, which a sabbath, a 
sanctuary, a divine word, and a witnessing omnipotence 
impress on the eloquence of man. It proposes to fit 
the orator for the noblest achievements of human 
speech ; for all that ancient eloquence ever accomplished, 
and immeasurably more ; a miracle, which man's elo- 
quence never dreamed of achieving, — the creation, 
instrumentally, of a new nature, instinct with regene- 
rate emotions, to which its appeals may be ever eJffec- 
tively directed. 

Combined with the composition and delivery of ser- 
mons, will be the cultivation of criticism and review ; 
in circumstances the most favourable for imbuing the 
critic with candour, kindness, and fraternal magna- 

The faithfulness and delicacy, the unwearied atten- 
tion, patient labour, and careful discrimination of indi- 
vidual varieties of taste and talent, which this depart- 
ment demands, have led the founders of separate theolo- 
gical seminaries in some European states, to limit the 
number of students admitted, to one-fourth of the atten- 
dance customary in these halls. There, however, it may 
be seen, that too great a reduction to one standard of 
public preaching, has resulted already, from the minute- 
ness and artificial exactness of homiletic discipline. 
Better than limitation of number for such an object, 


will be wakeful concern, to promote a fair development 
of each candidate's own native talent and sectional 
taste; which the minuteness of artificial criticism would 
tend to repress, while it chastens. We would have 
the bold and ready exhorter, the quick and cogent de- 
bater, the smooth and elegant writer, all trained to- 
gether ; with free and right propulsion on the part of 
the teacher, and by the interaction of their own diver- 
sified genius ; under the conditions of a vigilant over- 
sight, and firm retrenchment of whatever the sensibili- 
ties of true Christian refinement would anywhere con- 
demn in the pulpit. 

III. A third division may be denominated Cate- 
chetics ; embracing the whole variety of means, for the 
instruction of youth and ignorance, other than public 
preaching. These were never so many and important, 
as at the present day. We live in the great era of 
means. And it requires even painful discrimination, 
to guard the rights of the pulpit, amid the bustle of 
platforms, which would jostle and disparage it, in 
the hurry to do good. We would train our ministers to 
superlative regard for " the foolishness of preaching," 
as an instrumentality in the salvation of men ; and to 
confide in the wisdom of other instrumentalities, only 
so far as they conduce to the honour and success of 
preaching, by the living minister. 

Hence there is need for careful indoctrination, on the 
subject of subsidiary means ; their relative importance; 


and how far they should be controlled by the Church, 
in her appropriate organization, or left to the manage- 
ment of voluntary combinations. 

The relation of the Church and her ministers to the 
great work of general education — the pedagogics, which 
a preacher may properly connect with his holy oflice, — 
and that entire capacity of Christian ministers, which 
seems to have been set off distinctly, in primitive times, 
and times of Scottish reformation, under the denomina- 
tion of teachers, should be studied here. 

So, also, the missionary field, as far as the work of 
imparting elementary instruction, dealing with the 
superstitions of the heathen, and managing the edu- 
cation of their children, constitute the errand of mis- 

Here belong lessons for the guidance of young minis- 
ters in times of revival ; w^hen the visitations of power 
from on high call them to multiplied exertions and 
peculiar toils : casuistry, also, for all times and seasons 
of pastoral life, with its difficult problems, and ba- 
lancing principles. 

Many a prelection of great value may be given, under 
this humble head, on sabbath schools, Bible classes, 
parochial visits, and diets of examination ; provinces of 
ministerial work and skill, which cannot be valued too 
highly ; and which are all underlaid with principles, 
that must be studied, and must anticipate experience, 
if the ardour of youth would enter on its career safely. 


and turn its own experience to wisdom and efficiency, 
without the loss of time and labour. 

A normal school for teachers, whose main calling 
must ever give them paramount influence in educating 
the world — may we call this particular branch of 
practical theology; in which we would make them 
know, how they ought to behave themselves, in the 
school, the convention, the author's study, the editor's 
chair, the secretary's desk, the agent's itinerancy, and 
the colporteur's broadcast of dissemination — all of 
wdiich may appertain to " the house of God, which is 
the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of 
the truth." 

IV. Liturgies, may be called a fourth division ; 
though we reluctantly abide by the title. It will em- 
brace the sabbath, and those ordinances of religion, 
wdiich are distinctively worship, and formal solemnity. 
Puritanical protest will, itself, require a careful study 
of rites and ceremonies — to know what they are, by 
the sanction of God's word, what the authority of the 
Church, in relation to them, and what the proprieties 
of their actual administration. 

With the ordinance of prayer, must be studied the 
question of liturgical forms ; and many important coun- 
sels and directions. With that of singing praises, 
questions which separate branches of the Presbyterian 
family ; as well as many a minor topic of interest, 
within our own denomination. With reading the word, 


that emphasis, which interprets witliout comment, and 
that emotion, which becomes the words, that are, them- 
selves, " spirit and life." 

Baptism and the Lord's Supper afford a rich domain, 
after ceding much to theoretic theology, on every side. 
Fasting and thanksgiving will connect asceticism for 
investigation ; and lead us to distinguish the morti- 
fication, which our Saviour, and his Apostles, and all 
men, exercised unto godliness, in every age, have prac- 
tised, from that mere bodily exercise, and voluntary 
humility, and austere virginity, with which the 
Catholic Church revolted from the liberty of the gospel, 
and sunk to bondage, terror, and death. 

The ordinance of " making collections for the poor, 
and other pious purposes," which, it might be thought, 
any deacon would understand, without elaborate teach- 
ing, is one that a Chalmers deemed worthy of his head 
and heart and pen, without finding its problems easily 
solved, with all his gigantic power : one which my pre- 
decessor in pastoral theology, loved to investigate and 
teach, with the dint of his massive intellect, and the 
deep earnest of his capacious heart : one too, which our 
own General Assembly has just devolved on theological 
professors, with strong recommendation ; under the 
title of " Systematic Benevolence." 

V. A fifth division is the Church, and her proper visi- 
bility ; the true theory of her constitution, membership, 
and government. This itself is a great theme ; compli- 


cated with the most important discussions of the age ; 
and presenting, perhaps, the only subject, that has not 
yet been fairly settled in the suffrages and literature of 
evangelical Christendom. 

Opposite extremes of error, in the true Church of 
God, have probably but one battle more, in which to 
perish ; and the golden moderation of the gospel may 
triumph in millennial joy. That battle is to be here. 
The last thing for the Church, in her militancy, to 
know conclusively, is her own self And, it would be 
strange anomaly, indeed, if the result of this ultimate 
struggle, be the attainment of a mere abnegation -, and 
the triumph of true moderation consist, in restoring 
the moderatism of a feeble and supine indifference to 
any particular form. 

We cannot believe it; and, therefore, determine to 
stand on the watchtower, of a proper jus divinum for 
the parity of ministers, the existence of ruling elders, 
and church courts, original and appellate. 

We seek to place on higher ground than man's 
expedience, a polity like this ; which gives the germ 
of civil and political freedom to the nations, and con- 
serves, with the force of a great psychological bond, 
which history has ever illustrated, the soundness of 
redeeming truth, in the belief and practice of men. 
Though not honoured with instruction from the lips of 
Dr. Miller, his type of Presbyterianism was impressed 
upon my youth by his writings ; and the researches of 


years in the study of Church Government have only 
confirmed that early tuition. 

In refuting the figment of apostolic succession on 
the one hand, and no succession at all upon the other 
— the continuance of priesthood, in a particular class, 
on the one hand, and priesthood in the people, which 
repudiates the authority of office, on the other— a de- 
pository of power in the hands of individuals, apart 
from assemblies, on the one hand, and engrossment of 
power in the masses, without representation, on the 
other, — w^e have some of the appropriate exercises of 
this department ; in which we shall seek to find and 
hold "the present truth." 

VI. The sixth division may be designated. Ecclesiasti- 
cal Law and Discipline ; the diacritical power and prac- 
tice of the Church. It is not Canon Law, the ofEspring 
of church and state united, which rivalled Civil and 
Common Law, for centuries, as a pathway to fame and 
influence ; but that declarative legislation and execu- 
tion of law in the Church herself, which is flir more a 
profound and profitable study. 

The statute book of our own particular denomina- 
tion, containing so many wise enactments, and valua- 
ble interpretations of the constitution, and important 
regulations of that vast machinery, for doing good, 
which employs the alms and prayers and abilities of 
more than 2000 ministers, and 200,000 members, 
ought now to be taught with diligence to the rising 


ministry. And still more, the principles and book of 
Discipline, which embody so much of Christian ethics, 
as well as forms of justice, that symbolize the doctrines 
of human right. 

To construe offences fairly, to conduct the process 
righteously, to graduate the conviction justly, to inflict 
the censure faithfully, and restore the penitent 
offender seasonably, require a cultivation which must 
be one of liberal study, as well as sound judgment and 
careful experience. Judges of both law and fact, 
whose decisions involve the honour and safety of the 
Saviour's Kingdom, and depend so much upon their 
manifest propriety, for any force and credit among men, 
must be learned in the law; and qualified to uphold 
the judiciary of our spiritual courts, in comparison with 
that of secular courts ; or, in a great nation like ours, 
of jurists and jurymen, the law of Christ will be dis- 
paraged, if not entirely despised. 

Such is an outline, of the department proper, to my 
apprehension. The singularly excellent usage, in this 
Institution, of making the Bible a textbook, to be 
studied exegetically, in every department, with refe- 
rence to the subjects belonging to each, respectively, 
will be followed, with delight ; and interesting portions, 
historical and epistolary, may fall to this practical 
chair, for critical and thorough examination. 

Other studies, which are ancillary, will not be ne- 
glected; such as lead to the knowledge of human 



nature— spiritual anthropology— man as debased or 
developed in every age, by the religious sentiment, as 
it has been called, under its various manifestations. 

Practical Theology must ever attempt to explain the 
contact and confluence of religion with civilization. 
And, though many questions, greatly agitated else- 
where, respecting the relation of civil magistracy to 
sacred things, are of little interest to this country, they 
are of much importance to our missionaries ; and many 
yet remain, along this Hne, ever important to ourselves, 
which can not be understood by superficial thought or 

It was only by the most learned of our ministers, 
and not without help from this hall of theological educa- 
tion, that the true doctrine of '"■ the higher law," came 
to be fliirly understood, on a late memorable occasion of 
national disturbance. And it will require yet a labori- 
ous culture, in the seats of sacred science, to qualify 
the ministers of reconciliation, for a judicious exercise 
of their ability and influence, on the heaving masses, 
which may be tempted, in the day of passion, to tear 
in pieces, the most beautiful result of modern civiliza- 
tion, — the constitution of this great republic. Questions 
of vital concernment to the welftire of our nation, 
continually press upon such a department as this; and 
it is not, perhaps, extravagant to say, that a single 
question of discipline, in our own church, if it had been 
settled, as other churches have settled it, or left it un- 


settled, would have already severed the cords of this 
American Union. 

Great conflicts are coming; if not in relation to 
social and domestic institutions, certainly, in relation 
to a vast political system, which is ecclesiastical, in its 
history and claims ; and must be countervailed on the 
arena of ecclesiastical discussion ; and there is not one 
division of this study, which may not be made an ar- 
moury, for the preparation of champions in the contest 
with Popery. When we teach, that the pastor is not 
a priest, but a minister of Jesus — that preaching truth 
from the oracles of God, in the language of the people, 
is to be his principal function — that the Bible, in some 
vernacular tongue, should be, first and last, at home 
and at school, the handbook of all catechumens — that 
forms of worship, which have no warrant in the word 
of God, for their use, are to be discarded, as the mere 
commandments of men — that all gradation of rank in 
the ministry of Christ, is unscriptural and unjust — that 
the true administration of discipline, must aim to make 
the church visible and invisible entirely coincident — we 
touch the whole circle of Practical Theology, and 
subvert the whole fabric of Papal idolatry. 

But, far within this margin of our holy religion, the 
department of which we speak, deals with central 
interest, and claims a memorial of peculiar renown. 
The ^' applied science" of theological study, it governs 
all the resources, which any other department can 


furnish, with adaptation to the end of the whole, the 
glory of God, in the salvation of men ; and must have 
therefore, all the value, which this proximity to such 
an end confers upon means. Think, of marshalling 
the educated energies of scores, in the ardor of youth, 
and vigor of high discipline, on the verge of such a 
field, as this wonder-working age is opening daily to 
" the glorious Gospel of the blessed God !" Think, of 
but one lesson, the first and most obvious, which this 
function must impress on such instrumentalities — that 
of true consecration, the call of God, the crucifixion of 
self, the value of souls, the glory of Christ, and that 
holiness of heart and life, without which this ministry 
were usurpation, and the whole acquirements of 
theoretic theology a perversion, of deadly Ijane to the 
Church and the world ! 

From the earliest germ of revealed religion, we may 
scan a seminal importance in this branch of sanctified 
learning. Primeval divinity was almost entirely 
comprehended here. Catechetics and Liturgies were 
the cyclopaedia of sacred science, from Adam to Christ. 
And where is the Christian minister, who does not 
repair to the orators, and bards, and historians, of 
regular and irregular attendance on the schools of the 
prophets during that long period of time, for the 
richest illustrations of doctrine and duty, with which 
to adorn the pulpit now ? 

The Great Teacher himself, within his college of 



disciples, dwelt mostly on themes of Pastoral Theology 
and Church Government ; on a call to the ministry, 
and its qualifications, its cross, and its crown ; on the 
nature of his kingdom, its separation from the state, 
its parity of ministers, its bench of elders, and even 
its method of process for the exercise of discipline ; not 
omitting, by any means, important hints in his own 
example and precept, for the composition and delivery 
of sermons. His valedictory charge on a mountain of 
Galilee, where all the disciples were present, and five 
hundred besides, was arranged with so much care, and 
delivered in so significant a manner, that the great 
commission fell upon the bosom of the Church, as well 
as the shoulders of particular men ; to bar the roots of 
religious pedigree, and provide for emergencies of re- 
formation, while the world endures. 

The Apostles followed the example of their Master; 
all of them abounding in lessons of practical theology. 
Whole epistles were written for textbooks in this 
department; and their author, the great polemic of 
that primitive and sainted school, has mingled on 
every page of his other epistles, ecclesiastical and 
pastoral lessons, with his profound elucidation of doc- 

Passing the Apostolic Fathers, whose scanty litera- 
ture is nearly all in this department only; the first 
theological seminary of the Christian Church began at 
Alexandria as a catechetical school ; and was probably 


conducted altogether within the range of practical 
theology, in its exercise and studies. 

In the palmy age of Patristic Theology, when sys- 
tematic divinity had not yet shapen a creed, and 
church history was only beginning its annals, and 
polemics were little more than Catholic anathema on 
heresy, the noblest ministers, whether Greek or Latin, 
vied in the advanced cultivation of this study. Augus- 
tine, Chrysostom, and Cyril, furnished manuals, which 
may yet be studied with profit; not to mention the 
labours of Jerome and others, in the department of 
church government and discipline. 

The darkness and torpor of succeeding ages could 
pall the life of Christianity everywhere but here. 
Pulsations of power might always be felt in the hands 
of this religion. Asceticism, with its ceaseless activity 
of change, images, investitures, offices, patronage, pil- 
grimage, councils, and crusades, — everything that 
tumultuated in the life of Mediaeval Christendom, 
belonged, in some way, to this practical domain ; and 
shows how vastly important it must be, to guide such 
irrepressible vitality with careful and true enlighten- 

When that great revival of Christianity, the Refor- 
mation, awakened men to the light of the Bible, Exe- 
gesis, Didactics, Polemics, and History, were suddenly 
restored to their usefulness and rights; but the imper- 
fections of men could not escape the weakness of ex- 


treme reaction. The greatest fault of Luther and 
Calvin's age, was the disparagement of practical 
theology ; arising from the fact, that such theology, in 
its perversion, had been everything of religion, under 
the darkness and tyranny from which they had just 
revolted. But for such a tacit disparagement, Luther 
would not have left his Church, burdened with cere- 
monies, benighted on the doctrine of a sacrament, and 
deformed with the most diversified accidents of polity 
and discipline. And, but for the same disparagement, 
though less, incomparably, Calvin would not have left 
his, a mixture of form and opinion, so mottled, that 
presbytery and prelacy, charity, bigotry, and latitu- 
dinarianism, could have claimed, with any colour of 
right, the same denomination. 

The reaction of Popery punished the former; the 
troubles of Puritans punished the latter. And it was 
in the next century, an age of giants, the seventeenth 
and greatest, in the chronicles of modern time, that 
practical theology regained its just consideration, and 
took its high place in the literature and schools of our 
holy reformed religion. Baxter and Owen, and Hen- 
derson and Baillie, and Rutherford and Gillespie, 
and Selden and Lightfoot, and Claude and Grotius, 
and a host of others, bestowed their energies on this 
department with peculiar fondness ; and full three- 
fourths of the time employed by the Westminster 
divines to prepare the greatest monument of unin- 


spired talent which the world has seen, our Confession 
of Faith and its Catechism, were engrossed with the 
subjects of this study ; for which, indeed, that vene- 
rable body was primarily convened. Worthy of the 
most favoured Church, that ever adopted the West- 
minster Confession, and worthy of the most favoured 
land that ever obtained from its divinely sanctioned 
scheme of polity, the model of well-regulated liberty, 
is the discretion, with which, for the first time in 
Presbyterian history, you have made it completely 
one, and given it a separate chair. 

Many an illustration, from the decline of Presbytery 
in England, its trials in Scotland, its' extinction in 
France, its transplantation to America, and vigor- 
ous growth on our shores, might be adduced to show 
the importance of our study, and enhance the great- 
ness of its memorial. History, to Avhich my labours 
have been much devoted heretofore, and in which, as 
a great framework, every important part of human 
knowledge may be set and included, will come to my 
aid, as peculiarly and indispensably subservient. 

That such a province of sacred learning should be 
left to the mere observation and experience of pupils, 
or to a discipleship with men of practical eflicicncy 
and success, without other qualifications for teaching, 
must be regarded as a grave mistake, if we have not 
wholly mistaken the nature and scope of this office. 
Rather say, that imitation is better than science; in 


teacliing the elements of any liberal art ; that empi- 
ricism is better than study, in teaching the work of 
any other profession, than that the line of any one 
pastor's experience is better than great principles, 
embodied by careful induction from many expe- 
riences, in teaching the lessons of practical theology. 
Could a city pastor, merely from his own particular 
life, however long and fiivoured in the pastoral care, 
teach the student how to behave himself in a country 
charge, or at a missionary station ? " The care of 
souls," says Vinet, a great name in pastoral theology, 
" will not be the same in city and country, in a farm- 
ing and a manufacturing district, in the bosom of a 
population of simple manners, and with refined and 
eifeminate people." 

Besides, the man of right conduct for himself, is 
not always the man to explain even his own conduct, 
for the benefit of others. In daily intercourse, we 
often find an incapacity of practical men to give intel- 
ligible reasons for the success with which they direct 
their own business, and meet the changes and emer- 
gencies of life; and in the most elevated spheres of 
magisterial vocation, the same ineptitude has been 
frequent and striking. It was said of a renowned 
executive, in our own country, that no man ever ruled 
with more unerring direction in the right way, and 
no man ever blundered with more entire confusion, in 


giving reasons for his conduct, as a ruler. So, we 
apprehend, the discreet and successful pastor may be 
found, who seldom fails to turn the exigencies of his 
great vocation to the very best account, in the tact of 
his own administration, and yet is disqualified, by the 
cast of his mind, and the habitudes of office, as he fills 
it, dealing so much in the concrete, for that quick 
analysis and broad rationale, which must furnish the 
learner with principles that govern the office, and fit 
him to meet, with versatile application, stations of life 
and duties, with which his teacher has never been 
conversant. All education were stagnant, if the tui- 
tion of great principles be not a pioneer to particular 

While, therefore, we bow to the practical pastor, as 
the noblest of human characters, and eagerly seek, at 
all times, to learn from his lips, the art of caring for 
souls, there may be an extravagant estimate of prac- 
tice alone, as a qualification for teaching the rising 
ministry, to the disadvantage of any department ; and 
especially those great theoretic departments, which 
demand the studies of a lifetime, intensely given, to 
furnish a proper defence of the gospel, against the 
erudite and subtle enemies, which now " come in like 
a flood." Yet, in this particular Chair, though its 
themes might well demand illimitable stores of erudi- 
tion, and cannot be handled by merely empirical tact, 


experience is indispensable; experience of the world, 
the pastor's office, and the teacher's art. Without 
having had a fair and full experiment of pastoral life, 
and surpassing fondness for its duties, along with pre- 
vious training of many, a kind in common life, in- 
cluding the brief pursuit of another profession, which 
brings a man most fully into contact with human 
nature, as well as fits him somewhat for the last two 
branches here detailed, my own consent to adventure 
on this high office could not have been obtained. 

And yet, the first idea, in premeditating an address 
for this occasion, was to make apology for being here, 
and venturing to touch a responsibility, which was 
shared by Dr. Alexander and Dr. Miller, both, in part. 
Assuredly, it is not done, without a diffidence, which 
trembles to despondency at times. But, we owe it to 
those illustrious men themselves, not to speak of the 
Church they loved better than themselves, that the 
generation they instructed and left behind them, 
should not allow the greatness of their names to 
injure the work of their hands, or cause an Institu- 
tion, for which they laboured and prayed through 
forty years, to be declined and forsaken, because there 
is no one to sustain the position as they did. There 
must be a sacrifice, just here. And is it not worth 
the martyrdom of half a score of men, so far as repu- 
tation is concerned, to fill a breach like this; and 


carry on God's work in this venerable scat, through 
all disparagement; perpetuating, in some way, a monu- 
ment so precious, of their toil and consecration ? 

Exchanging, at what seemed to be a wish of the 
Church at large, as well as peculiar indications of my 
Master's will, the pride of remaining in a place built 
up for myself in one sense, where the demands of the 
position and my own qualifications were supposed to 
be commensurate, for the peril of this new responsi- 
bility, of standing in a place already built by others — 
and more than built — adorned, with living talent, 
which enlightened Christendom confesses, and with 
festooned memories, which might well oppress the 
spirit of any successor, who is not led by a simple 
sense of duty, I come to relinquish self on the altar 
of this service ; knowing, that, even my preference of 
this Chair to any other, imposes a more aggravated 

Indulge me then, Fathers and Brethren, with kind 
extenuation. "We are not always most successful in 
the duties which we fancy most; and in the very 
scheming, which I make at this inauguration, a field 
of overpowering magnitude spreads itself before mo. 
God only, with his own rich grace and abounding 
mercy, can make me equal to the work. 

And whatever be the results of this accession, or 
any other, from this time, one thing is obvious, that, 


we may not expect the same superiority of numbers, 
as in times that are past. It is, manifestly, the will 
of our Church, that her sons be distributed among 
many theological nurseries; and that the usefulness 
of this original Seminary be maintained, in the high 
standard and faithful care of its instruction, rather 
than a throng of students in attendance. Nor has 
this ordination been made against your own will, 
either as guardians or benefactors of this Institution. 
" The rivalship of numbers," it has been well said, by 
one of yourselves, " is unworthy of these seats of 
sacred science. Numbers may ruin us." Your own 
best patrons have aided, with munificent help, as I 
can attest with gratitude, even the nearest competi- 
tion for students, until it is at length, completely 
established, and claims a common interest in almost 
every part of our field. The reduction of numbers, 
then, we consent to, as no evil or decline, when it 
redounds to the prosperity of sister institutions, and 
does not indicate a loss at large to the work of " the 

And, for the goodwill, with which the friends of 
this Seminary have aided others in their efforts to 
become similar centres of attraction; for the unri- 
valled benefactions, that she has shed over all this 
land and other lands ; for the honour of that peerless 
unity, which binds our beloved Church together in 




conspicuous harmony ; and, above all, for tlic glory of 
that Blessed One, whose we are, and whom we serve, 
compactly in the common salvation, may we not hope, 
that the loan of love will be repaid ; and that these 
halls will ever be prospered with the best wishes and 
constant praj-ers of all the churches that have been 
gladdened with streams from this fountain, and all 
the seminaries that have been profited, by its issues of 
living ministers and lasting literature? Cheered by 
this hope, so reasonable, yet, confiding only in God, 
the God of our fiithers, we give ourselves wholly to 
do what our hands find to do; prepared, alike, to 
suffer and rejoice, as He may mete the evil and the 
good, which are mingled in any allotment of life. 

" But, this I say, brethren, the time is short." 
Death, which made a desolation here, by removing 
the patriarchs to their seats in "the general assembly 
and church of the firstborn" in heaven, reverses with 
amazing persistency, the roll of ministers; and the 
young, or the mature at the meridian of usefulness 
are called away, Avith a frequenc}-, which is without 
parallel, in the memory of this generation. How soon 
may we, also, that labour to recruit those wasting 
bands, on the high places of the field, fall at the quiet 
fountain ; where, indeed, from the venerable Matthews 
to the lamented Sampson, almost every year is laying 
some Professor in the dust. Honoured Directors yet 


live, whose hands have managed this ancient Institu- 
tion from its origin, and whose vigour in this high 
trust is not yet abated. Long may they Unger to 
counsel and befriend us. But the burden of their 
years and the frailty of their juniors admonish us, 
that the sequel of our history here will be one of 
quicker challenge, in the progress of mortality. God 
grant us all, " mercy to be faithful," — " faithful unto 
death," that we may obtain " a crown of life." 












Hebrew Language. 
Exegetical Study of the Scriptures. 
Biblical Criticism. 

Biblical Antiquities and Sacred Chro- 

Introduction to the Study of the Scrip- 

Mental and Moral Science. 

Evidences of Natural and Revealed 

Sacred Rhetoric. 


Exegetical Study of the Hebrevr and 

Greek Scriptures (continued). 
Didactic Theology. 

Ecclesiastical History. 
Pastoral Theology and Missionary 


Exegetical Study of the Scriptures 

Didactic Theology (continued). 
Polemic Theology. 

Church Government. 
Homiletics, Composition and Delivery 
of Sermons. 

The students of the Seminary are required to deliver orations; and 
to exhibit compositions as often as is judged expedient by the Professors. 

The Resident Grraduates have the privilege of attending on the lec- 
tures of all the classes. 


Every person applying for admission into the Seminary must pro- 
duce satisfactory written testimonials that he possesses good natural 
talents, and is of a piiident and di.>^creet deportment; that he is in full 
communion with some regular church; and that he has passed through 
a regular course of Academic study; or, wanting this, he must submit 
himself to an examination on the branches of literature usually taught 
in such a course. 

When a student has been received under the care of a Presbytery, 
and has passed his examination on the studies usually pursued in Col- 
lege with approbation, a certificate from the Presbytery declaring this 
fact, is receiyed as sufficient to answer every requisition in regard to 

When a student who has been connected with any Theological 
Seminary, seeks admission into this, he must produce testimonials of 
his good standing, and regular dismission, before he can be received. 

The proper time for entering the Seminary is at the commence- 
ment of the Seminary year, which begins on the first Thursday of 
September. It is important that students should be present at the 
opening of the session. 

The students, in addition to the use of libraries attached to the 
Seminary, have access to that of the College, and on application to 
the several Professors of that Institution, can have the privilege of 
attending lectures on Natural Philosophy, Chemistry, and Natural 

Gentlemen well qualified to teach the (lorman and French lan- 
guages are resident here, and will give instruction in those branches 
to such students as desire it at their own expense. 

There is no charge made cither for Tuition or Room rent; but each 
student pays 810 per annum to the "(Jeneral Expense Fund," the 
object of which is to defray the contingent expenses of the Institu- 
tion; and §1 per annum for the use of the library. Students who 


may prefer rooming out of the Seminary building, can be accommo- 
dated in the village and vicinity, in which case they pay but 85 to the 
"Expense Fund." 

Indigent students are aided either by the G-eneral Assembly's 
"Board of Education," or the funds of the Seminary. 

The expense of board in the Refectory varies from 81 45 to 81 75 
per week. Board may be obtained in private families at from 81 50 
to 82 50 per week. Expenses for fuel, from 86 to 810 per annum. 
Washing, 88. 

There is but one vacation in the year, which commences the second 
Thursday in May, and terminates on the first Thursday in September. 



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